Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ode to a Pear-Shaped Bird

Living upstairs gives me an entirely different view of our fine feathered friends than heretofore enjoyed. Sitting at the dining table, I can look out the window and down on some of the trees. For the rest of them, I'm able to catch a good gander at the tops, rather than the bottoms. I'm also front and center for the busy flight patterns of all the birds.

There's a pretty good variety to watch but I'm now fortunate enough to be gifted with a species that is completely new to me. Although the Pacific Northwest is supposed to be part of their year-round range, I've never before seen the sleekly handsome Cedar Waxwing. They first came to my attention just last week and have been intriguing and entertaining me ever since.

The little photo above has been "borrowed" from here just so you'd have an idea of what I'm talking about -- in case you've never seen them either. For some really terrific photos, go here. Go ahead. I'll wait. I want you to see why I'm so impressed with these little guys.

I'm steering you to these other photo sites because, so far, my own efforts to capture the waxwings leaves a lot to be desired. Until today, I only saw a couple of them at a time but this morning a flock of about 16 suddenly fluttered down and took a coffee break in one of the birch trees across from me.

As you can see, they're a bit too far away for detail if you don't know what you're looking at. It's like viewing a crop of fat pears that are inexplicably wearing Mardi Gras masks. Watching them in person, however, is a lot more rewarding than this photo would indicate.

For one thing, the waxwings seem to be very laid back birds. The wrens and sparrows are constantly twitching and hopping about. The gold finches are busy working seeds out of the spruce cones. The swallows never light anywhere because they're constantly doing aerial acrobatics while nest building and raising families. But the waxwings kick back and enjoy the sun. They know how to stop and smell the roses, by golly. And they do it long enough that I can lay the binoculars on them and study every little detail for a long time.

I sure hope this group isn't just passing through because they're sure fun to have around. Nature gives us some of the most remarkable gifts sometimes, doesn't she?


John Bailey said...

Darn right she does, Dee. Even here in the brickscape... and down the road five minutes there's so much Nature around you're in danger of stepping in it! :-)

bb said...

My understanding is they travel in groups. My only encounter one year was to go to a friend's house to identify the one that flew into her window. Poor little thing didn't make it.

Stephanie said...

Oh, how beautiful!

Jo said...

On the maps, the waxwings are in your area year round. Same here in Ohio. I love seeing them. Such an elegant bird. I only see them in the fall when they are passing through to somewhere else. They sit in the treetops of the trees in our yard and flit out every now and then probably to catch a bug even though they are mainly fruit eaters.

Dee said...

John, you gotta watch out for the Mom Nature gifts that are thick on the ground! (grin)

Bonnie, according to what I've seen and read, you're right about the group thing. One source indicated they also tend to be among those birds that mate for life.

Steph,Jo, yes -- these fat little fellas are really gorgeous -- and sweet-natured, to boot. Mom Nature did extra good with them.

The Old Guy said...

Last night, while a deer was feeding in our uncut "grotto" at the end of the yard, a quail bounced across from one fence to the other and disappeared. In the twilight it was hard to tell what kind it was, but it had a general shape and size of a football (American style). Unless it was just an errant pass from a Green Bay fan... No.. it had to be a bird because we heard it a few minutes later. And footballs don't have beaks.

Mage said...

Oh, delightful. The birds and the dehydrator. I'm always needing just a pinch of this or that, and a dehydrator would supply this lack. :) we have a giant and very noisy flock of parrots. Yes. One or two got loose, and we now have a giant flock on the ocean side of Point Loma. Not nearly as cute as yours tho, but they are ours.